Some notes from my weekend in Los Angeles after seeing UC Irvine's Andrew Thurman and San Diego's Kris Bryant, two likely first-rounders.
• Thurman pitched a gem against Hawaii on Friday night, only running into trouble in the ninth inning after eight superb frames in which he commanded his fastball and showed four weapons. The right-hander was 91-93 with his fastball early in the game, slipping a little to 89-92 by the sixth inning, and worked very well side to side with the pitch, making up for the fact that it didn't have a ton of life.
His off-speed pitches were inconsistent, but all flashed above average at some point during the outing. His changeup was the best of them, 77-80 with good arm speed; his coach called for several in a row at a few points during the game and Thurman was confident enough in the pitch to execute it.
The slider was probably the most consistent, like a hard curveball that he got on the side of a little too much, but that he'd use to right- and left-handed hitters. His curveball started out soft at 72-75 but got sharper as the game went on, and he threw it for strikes the whole night. His arm is quick, and his arm path is short, with just a little hitch as he brings his front leg down.
He's 6-foot-3, 205 pounds , with a strong core for durability, and has reached 95 in other starts this season. Even at 90-93 he's a clear first-rounder for me, probably in the 20-30 range.
• The University of San Diego Toreros were at Loyola Marymount this weekend, so Bryant was in town, but he was only able to DH after rolling his left ankle Wednesday; he was running without favoring the leg but had a slight limp when he was walking.
He's the top college bat in this draft, primarily for his power, showing it off in BP Saturday but not in the game. Bryant sets up with a very wide base and has no stride, just a toe-tap for timing. It's a quiet swing overall, with excellent hip rotation for power, but his bat speed is just average or a tick better and I worry about his contact rates when he's consistently facing guys throwing 90-plus in pro ball.
He struggled against breaking stuff Saturday but there's no doubt that he can murder a good fastball. I saw Bryant as a shortstop in high school but he has outgrown that position and may do the same to third base; I think he'd be fine in right field, as he's reasonably athletic for his size and has plenty of arm for that position.
He's probably a low-average/high-power hitter down the road, with a ceiling of .260-.270 averages (and likely less) but 30-homer potential as well, and I expect him to go in the top 10 picks, with at least three directors from teams drafting that high at LMU with me.
• Right-hander Dylan Covey started for San Diego, and looked OK for three innings before falling apart in the fourth.
Covey was the Brewers' first-round pick in 2010 from Maranatha High School (Pasadena, Calif.), but decided not to sign at the last minute when a physical revealed that he had diabetes, after which he chose to stay closer to home to deal with the disease. (Without knowing all of the specifics of Covey's situation, I was and still am surprised at his choice -- the first-round choice of an MLB team is going to receive a much higher quality of medical care than the average American receives, both due to access and because the team has such a large investment in the player.)
Covey was 89-92, flashing a little better, but had 40-grade command early and 30 command in that final inning, fatal when your fastball is straight and likes to hang out in the upper half of the zone. He showed four pitches, with a straight change at 81-83 and two breaking balls, a curve and a slider, that had similar shapes but different velocities. His biggest problem is that from the stretch, he's off the rubber way too quickly, building up no momentum as he heads toward the plate and losing the benefit he'd get from rotating his hips more.
I like how much extension he gets out front and his arm action is short and clean, even if his finish is a little abrupt. I'd consider him in the third round as a project guy who could have a solid future in the pen with an outside chance he could start.